2021 NFL Draft Grade: New England Patriots
Round 1 Pick 15: QB Mac Jones
Round 2 Pick 38: DT Christian Barmore
Round 3 Pick 96: DE Ronnie Perkins
Round 4 Pick 120: RB Rhamondre Stevenson
Round 5 Pick 177: LB Cameron McGrone
Round 6 Pick 188: S Joshua Bledsoe
Round 6 Pick 197: OT William Sherman
Round 7 Pick 242: WR Tre Nixon
The Patriots are poised for the post-Tom Brady era after taking Mac Jones in the first round. In terms of throwing ability and pocket presence, Jones shows a lot of Brady in his game. Obviously, he doesn’t have the championship pedigree or “psycho Tom” mindset that Brady has shown throughout his career. Jones isn’t very mobile in terms of actual scrambling, but he slides around the pocket very fluidly similarly to Brady. That said, when protection breaks down around him, he will struggle to make plays. For right now in New England, the o-line isn’t great, and he could struggle early on.
New England also made big improvements to their defensive line that, while ranking in the top five in terms of pressure percentage, struggled to close out plays with sacks. Christian Barmore is the best DT in this draft, and he brings both a run-stopping ability as well as a pass rush. He is hard to keep out of the pocket with his size and speed, so he should find early success. Ronnie Perkins is another defensive end that has great athleticism but is a bit undersized. If he can put on a few pounds and keep his speed off the edge, he could develop into a viable pass rusher.
The big boom-or-bust prospect for New England is linebacker Cameron McGrone out of Michigan. He has just 15 starts under his belt at the collegiate level, so that lack of experience caused him to fall. McGrone’s play fell off a bit in 2020, but he showed incredible toughness playing through injuries that included playing with a cast on his hand. He is a great MIKE linebacker with incredible blitzing instincts. In an aggressive Bill Belichick defense, he should get plenty of opportunity, but it remains to be seen how he will perform at the next level.
Mac Jones at quarterback doesn’t feel like a stellar pick in the first round, but hey, no one thought Tom Brady would be who he turned into, either. Jones may not be the week one starter with Cam Newton on the roster, but we should see him at some point this year. The defense that struggled at times last year also saw improvements in this draft. The Patriots should make a playoff return in 2021.